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Study Swedish in the subway Posted by on Mar 17, 2022 in Culture, Living in Sweden, People, Swedish Language, Travel & Geography

Photo: C. Bowen, Stockholms tunnelbana, Nordiska museet ads

 

Bank with us. Check out our new exhibit! Looking for something tasty for dinner? Stockholm’s tunnelbana (subway) might as well be a marketing agency, because it’s packed with advertisements. Good ads pose a question, make a demand, or grab your attention with a familiar face or flashy artwork. This week we’ll study three different types of language used in Stockholm tunnelbana ads.

Stockholm is known for having a great public transportation system. With around 900,000 passengers moving by bus, train, and boat each day, it’s no wonder that advertisers choose this medium to get their message in front of people. Before we dig in – I should mention that I am not affiliated with any of these companies, nor is Transparent Language, but I DO work in marketing, so this post is fitting.

Below, we’ll look at some examples of reklam (advertisements) using statements, commands, and questions.  I took photos inside the tunnelbanevagnar (metro cars) and på väggarna vid spåren och rulltrapporna (on the walls next to the tracks and escalators). All of these were spotted at various stops in March of 2022. You’ll see insurance companies, delivery services, and organizations directly addressing current events – like the war in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic.

OBS! Click on the photo to expand it. Then click the back button in your browser to return to the blog. 

1. Påståenden – Statements

Straightforward syntax helps advertisers get right to the core of their message. Expect creative, but simple language.

Organization/Company           svenska                                engelska

Dagens nyheter              Det är mycket att ta in               It’s a lot to take in.
WWF                               Mer växtbaserat är din                More plantbased is your
                                         superkraft mot klimatkrisen.      superpower against the climate crisis.
Mooova                           Du fotar, vi hämtar.                     You take a photo, we pick it up.
Lantmännen                  Länge leve jorden.                         Long live the earth.

2. Imperativ – Command Form

The imperative, or command form, is used when the speaker is directing someone else to do something. Think giving directions, training someone on a new process, guiding a friend through a recipe, etc.

A longtime favorite of advertisers, this grammatical style directs readers to take action. “Check out our low rates,” “create your free account,” “order online now,” and so on.

   Organization/Company           svenska                          engelska

Svensk insamlingskontroll           Rädda barnen.                  Save the children.
Allakando                                        Höj betygen.                   Raise your grades.
Max                                                   Beställ via vår app.        Order in our app.

Vrak museum             Dyk in på stans nyaste museum.       Dive into the newest museum in town.
SL                                      Visa omtanke, hålla avstånd.        Show care, keep your distance.
Lendo                                Jämför, jämför, jämför.                  Compare, compare, compare.
Agria                                  Försäkra ditt djur hos oss.             Insure your animal with us.

For a reminder on how to conjugate the imperative via verb groups, see my post: Bake Swedish Cinnamon Buns Using Imperative Verbs!

3. Interrogativa / frågor – Questions

Asking a question in ads is highly effective because it feels less direct than the last two categories. It makes potential customers stop and ask themselves, “Am I REALLY paying too much for my car insurance?”

Organization/Company

Notar                          Vill du också sälja din bostad till rekordpris?  Want to also sell your home for a record (high) price?

Lexly                          Samboavtal mellan Gärdet och Hornstull?*

*A samboavtal is an agreement signed between two domestic partners to protect their individual rights to their housing if the relationship were to end.

I look forward to the summer when more tourists are visiting Stockholm. I expect that the English language ads will increase significantly. I’ll keep you all posted! What else would you like to see now that I’m in Stockholm? Post in the comments below!

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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.


Comments:

  1. Joe:

    Hi Chelesa,
    All your blog posts are very helpful to learn Swedish language. I am a beginner in Swedish, looking forward to more such topics.

    • Chelsea B:

      @Joe Thanks for following the blog, Joe! Best of luck with your Swedish study 🙂


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